European Union parliament takes on Hungary's Orban in unprecedented vote

Opposition to Orban's vision does not just come from the left as there is disquiet in the main centre right European People's Party, about his position despite the grouping including his Fidesz party

Under pressure from the European Union Commission, Orban is facing a vote that could see Hungary lose its voting rights in the bloc for undercutting democracy and EU core values.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told ORF television on Monday that his Austrian People's Party - like Fidesz, a member of the EPP, the biggest and most powerful party group in the assembly - would vote in favor of opening Article 7 proceedings against Hungary.

In the unprecedented move, 448 MEPs voted in favour of launching the so-called "Article 7" procedure, 197 against and with 48 abstentions, the EP referred Hungary to the other member states to check the health of the country's democracy.

"The decision was made in a fraudulent way, and contrary to relevant rules in European treaties", he said.

"They are now preparing revenge against Hungary because the Hungarians decided they will not become an immigration country", Orban said before arriving in Strasbourg.

The voting, however, does not mean immediate sanctions against Hungary, as the parliament passes the motion to the European Council, which has to unanimously decide on the punitive measures.

"Individuals close to the government have been enriching themselves, their friends and family members at the expense of Hungarian and European taxpayers", she said.

The vote was based on a report that voiced concerns about judicial independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, religious freedom, and the rights of minorities and refugees under eight years of Orban rule.

If approved, the motion would go to the EU's national leaders, theoretically opening the way for sanctions such as a suspension of Hungary's voting rights in the bloc.

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The vote was reportedly an unexpected blow to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been accused of pressuring courts and media and has refused to accept asylum seekers since assuming power in 2010.

He also said Hungary would seek legal ways to challenge the ruling as abstaining votes were not counted, and this, he said, changed the outcome of the vote.

Orban said the EU lawmakers had been given a 108-page documents detailing what the Hungarian government viewed as "basic errors" in the report on Hungary drafted by Judith Sargentini, a Dutch politician in the European Green Party.

But the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, launched similar steps under article seven against Poland in December past year over its alleged threat to the independence of the courts.

Weber comes from the Bavarian CSU party, which is a key ally to Merkel's CDU, but the two have clashed over migration recently as CSU has adopted a tougher anti-migration line, edging closer to Orban's position.

"Do you Hungarians know better, they need inquired of the deputies of Orban".

The EPP membership has muted European Union reaction to Orban's policies over the years and the big question mark is what the group's 217 members will now do. "They made it clear that human rights, the rule of law and democratic values are not up for negotiation", said Berber Biala-Hettinga, Amnesty International's expert on human rights in the EU.

He claimed that Hungary was facing "unfair accusations and lies". He has also expressed his desire to remain within the EPP, which he said was "deeply divided" on the issue of migration.

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